Top 5 tips for parents juggling business and children

This article originally appeared on Yahoo Lifestyle in February 2011.  

I’m asked a lot “how do you juggle business and children?“, “when do you sleep? I never have time to do anything“, “I feel guilty trying to work when the children are about“. Okay, so lets quash a myth right now… I’m not superwoman, I do sleep and occasionally I do hand my children over to the TV nanny in favour of sewing or writing. Does that make me a bad mummy? No!

Work life balance will mean something different to everyone. Everyone will have a different take and a different way that works for them. My balance is simple compromise and the children ultimately come first. I am the mum at soft play with notebook in hand scribbling away. I do hang my washing out at 9 o’clock at night and I block book as many meetings as I can back to back when my children are at pre-school. Yes I am a multitasking master.

Here are a few tips that help me juggle three under 5’s and a business schedule .

Joanne Dewberry

Joanne, Charlie, Megan and Olive in 2012

Don’t worry about what everyone else’s business is doing

When it comes to business, you never know what their personal circumstances are. You can easily (especially as everyone is promoting themselves on social networking) get disappointed when you see people achieving their goals and you still feel at step one. Remember they might only have one child at full time school or a team behind them. If your business is progressing slowly due to your commitments to your children then so be it … they will be at school full time by 4 years old. Then you’ll have plenty of time to conquer the world! Enjoy this time with them it doesn’t last!

Remind yourself why you run a business and juggle children

If I’m up late sewing or writing, I remind myself that I work for myself from home so that I can enjoy the time with my children as this time is precious and if a day at the beach means late night sewing so be it.

Balance your activities

I take the children to soft play, the beach or the park in the morning. When we get home I set them up with an unsupervised activity while I write or sew. I find my children much more agreeable to give me 5 minutes peace and they understand mummy works so they can have days out. On rainy days, activities at the dinning table such as playdough or drawing can provide you with 30 minutes respite to work if need be. I normally sit down with my children and the laptop. That way I can still engage with them and help roll those playdough sausages but answer emails at the same time.

Scheduling meetings

I schedule meetings when either a) the children are at pre-school or b) Daddy is at home – that way it doesn’t interfere with them or they don’t notice as they get to enjoy quality time with Daddy. This also means my mind is free to work I’m not thinking about what the children are doing or need.

Avoid phone calls when the children are about

Mine talk to me constantly when I’m on the phone but ignore me when I’m not! Plus I can guarantee one of them will need the toilet but instead of going as per usual they feel the need to announce this fact rather loudly.

I love my business and I love my children. Although my life is manic and I don’t always know what day of the week it is, I wouldn’t have it any otherway!